TVs are a pretty big expense, so the fact that they come with a manufacturer warranty – and an option for an extended warranty, for those who want one – is a bit of a relief. But not all warranties are exactly the same, and often, the extra coverage the salespeople push isn’t worth getting – especially if you take good care of your TV.
Here is a quick rundown of what you can expect to see covered by manufacturer warranties, why extended warranties are rarely a good idea, and what steps to take to keep your new TV in tiptop shape.
While the main characteristics of manufacturers’ warranties are the same, details like the dead pixel policy or the transferability of the warranty will change. This table compares the warranty of televisions for different manufacturers and brands.
|Brand||Parts||Labor||Dead Pixels||Transferable||In Home||Phone Number|
|LG||1 year||1 year||26": > 4 pixels
32" to 42": > 5 pixels
47"+: > 7 pixels
|Panasonic||1 year||1 year||Yes||No||≥42"||1-888-VIEW-PTV|
|Samsung||1 year||1 year||No||No||≥37"||1-800-SAMSUNG|
|Sharp||1 year||1 year||Case by Case||No||>46"||1-800-BE-SHARP|
|Sony||1 to 1.5 years
|1 to 1.5 years
|Vizio||1 year||1 year||No||Yes||≥30"||1-877-MY-VIZIO|
What warranties cover
A TV’s warranty covers the product in the event of a defect in materials or workmanship. If the manufacturer agrees that there is a defect and said defect was reported within the allowed time period – from when the television was purchased – it will either repair your product with new or refurbished parts, or replace it with a new or refurbished product.
That decision is made by the manufacturer at its own discretion. You will also need to present your original receipt or proof a purchase to validate the date of purchase.
What warranties do not cover
Things that occur under normal usage – basically, anything that can’t be blamed on the manufacturer – will not be covered by the warranty.
- Normal wear and tear
- Cosmetic damage
- Burn-ins or image retention
- Damages that occurred during shipment (this is handled by the store)
- Misuse or abuse by the user
- Power line surge
- Natural disasters
In summary, the warranty does not cover anything that is not the fault of the manufacturer or is to be expected under normal usage.
Different dead pixel policies
Not all manufacturers' warranties include protection against dead pixels. A dead pixel is a pixel on the screen which does not respond to signals anymore. Usually, this will produce a pixel that is stuck on a color.
Sharp, Sony and LG coverage is dependent on the number of defective pixels on the panel exceeding the brand’s acceptability threshold. Samsung is the only manufacturer that does not have any protection against dead pixels.
Dead pixels used to be a big problem in the early days of LCD televisions. Now, most televisions will never have any defective pixels, but some might get one or two. This is only a problem if the pixel is stuck on a bright color, and is therefore always visible. If you notice some dead pixels out of the box, you can just use your store policy to return or exchange it. You do not need to go through the manufacturer.
Vizio has a 'Zero Bright Pixel' policy on some TVs, which is different from a dead pixel policy. It means that, if on a guaranteed TV there is even one pixel that is stuck on a particular color, Vizio will replace it. For non-covered TVs, a minimum of four pixels must be stuck for the TV to be eligible for exchange. There is no explicit policy for dead pixels.
Are extended warranties worth getting?
Extended warranties prolong the length of time that your TV will be covered in case of damage or failure. Some may only offer similar guarantees to those included with the manufacturer warranty, but others might add extra protections. Overall, they’re mostly not worth getting, for the following reasons.
The short answer: Mostly, no. For most people, spending extra money on a warranty will not be worth it because the odds are in your favor that your TV won’t break until an acceptable amount of time has passed. But, those who definitely cannot afford to replace a TV in the unlikely event that it does fail soon after the end of the manufacturer warranty should get extended coverage, if only for the extra peace of mind.
The longer explanation: Companies charge for TV insurance based on the total projected failure rate of the TV model. Let’s say that Model X costs $1,000, has a projected failure rate of 5%, and will cost the company the full $1,000 to repair (the same as a new unit). The company is insuring 1,000 of them, which means that they’ll be on the hook for 50 (5% of 1000), at a cost of $50,000.
Including the company’s cost/profit margin, the insurer will want to collect $150,000 to offset the costs of insuring the TVs. Therefore, customers interested in getting insured will need to pay $150 – 1/1000th the amount the insurer wants to collect.
The problem is that customers are paying more than the real cost of insuring the TV, and odds are good that, if the TV doesn’t break inside the manufacturer’s guarantee, the TV will last until you don’t want it anymore. This sort of precaution makes sense for something very expensive, like a house, but not as much for a TV.
That’s why, unless you really can’t afford to replace a TV on the off chance it breaks within a couple of years, a warranty is not worth buying.
How to protect your TV
Most TVs now last a pretty long time, and are often replaced well before they break. But, if you’re interested in keeping a TV for as long as possible, there are a few steps you can take to keep your TV in good health.
Use a surge protector
Surge protectors help protect connected electronics by stopping them from being damaged by currents with voltages that exceed acceptable limits. They’re great to have, and can indeed save your TV, but they do have limitations.
For one, the surge protection can wear out after a few surges, which will leave your TV vulnerable. It’s a good idea to get a surge protector that includes a notification light that tells you its status.
Another is that they aren’t a guarantee against huge surges. A lightning strike could still likely wipe out your TV. That said, many surge protectors now offer a guarantee on devices connected to them that are damaged by a surge, so even in extreme cases, it’s good to be connected to a surge protector.
Note: Some electronic devices (the Xbox One is an example) may not work correctly when connected to a surge protector, and need to be connected directly to the wall. You should take a look at the manuals for all of the electronics in your setup to make sure you’re connecting everything correctly.
Clean your TV properly
It’s important to keep your TV, and the area it is in, clean. This will help prevent too much dust from getting inside the vents, which can hinder airflow and lead to heating issues.
You should not use a vacuum to clean the TV itself, as there’s a slight chance of static electricity buildup, which could lead to components malfunctioning. Instead, use a moist, soft cloth to wipe free any dust accumulated on the TV itself (screen and body), and then clean the area it is in however you normally do.
It’s also important to avoid using cleansers, as those can cause damage to the screen. A bit of water will be enough.
Avoid hot locations
As a rule, electronics aren’t great around heat, and since TVs generate quite a bit of heat themselves, keeping them in an overly warm environment can lead to components failing. To optimize your TV’s health, you’ll want to keep your set indoors in the summer, and away from heat sources in the winter.
That means that placing a TV above a fireplace isn’t a good idea. Heat rises, and with the TV directly in the path of the warmer air, it’s quite likely to see its temperature increase beyond intended levels.
You’ll also want to try to keep it somewhere with reasonably good airflow, so sticking it in a cabinet isn’t ideal.
Kid & pet-proof it
If you have children or animals running around (or you’re just a bit clumsy), you might want to take a couple of extra steps to secure your TV.
Securely mounting the TV to the wall is a good idea, as it will be less likely to fall if knocked into, which could break the TV and cause injury.
It’s also possible to purchase a plastic screen protector, which helps prevent damage from thrown objects or other direct contact with something hard or sharp. This is an example of one that is available for a 55” TV, though there are many options to choose from.
There’s little to separate most brands when it comes to the protections their new products come with, and most of the time, you don’t have anything to worry about. That’s why purchasing an extended warranty probably isn’t worthwhile. If you’re really worried about your TV, taking proper care of it will help it stay functional for years to come.